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John Prideaux 1461 – 1523

John Prideaux was aware from birth, that he was rich and a member of the great families of Cornwall and Devon. The two counties mixed through marriage, inheritance and business and the Prideauxs have joined with each and everyone of them at sometime or other. John expected to make a good marriage with the responsibilities to Crown and country and family. He must produce an heir and a spare and maintain and increase the Prideaux fortunes. He must be keep aware of the current politics and ensure that he followed the correct leader as that could change at a moments notice. John Prideaux’s lifetime was no different to many before and after him. Fortunes could change on the whim of a new King and soon, religion would make a difference.
During these times ,there were many fights between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians. There was a lot of support for the Lancastrians in the West Country and many aligned with their Welsh cousins.The marriages of William Prideaux to Alice Gifford of Theuborough and Fulke to Sir Richard Edgecombes daughter showed where their sympathies and politics lay. Sir Richard was knighted by Henry Tudor for his support in the overthrow of Richard III in 1485. The War of the Roses was over. There is a very strong possibility that Fulke was fighting at the Battle of Bosworth.
Most common people of the time could not care less about the conflicts between Lancastrian and Yorkist nobles. However a number of families in Devon and Cornwall had joined the Duke of Buckingham’s unsuccessful conspiracy to overthrow Richard and among those who fled to Brittany to join Henry Tudor were Sir Thomas Arundel, John Trevelyan, John and William Treffry and Richard Edgecombe. It is said that Edgecombe escaped capture by throwing his hat, weighted with a stone into the Tamar. His pursuers thought he had drowned and he was able to make good his escape.
His family lands in the South Hams including Orcharton and Adeston were willed to him. These were the longest owned and most beautiful and fertile lands, with warm weather and easy access to the sea.  His brother  Fulke Prideaux, inherited Theuborough near Sutcombe on the North  Devon coast. These substantial  manors arrived in the Prideaux household with their mother Alice Gifford. John Prideaux and his heirs were to inherit these lands, should Fulke die childless. Fulke firstly married Jane Edgecombe, the daughter and heir of Sir Richard Edgecombe. She died without issue. Incidentally, you may often see the letters dsp after someones name in a family tree. This abbreviates the Latin phrase, descessit sine prole, which translates  to died without issue. John Prideaux may have thought that he was in with a chance of inheriting the North Devonian lands to add to his  first marriage. John  Prideaux was  named as heir in his brothers inheritance at Adeston and also at Theuborough, should Fulke Prideaux and his wife die childless. But Fulke soon married Katherine the daughter of Sir Humphrey Poyntz and as if to drive it home with a mallet, they produced thirteen children, although not all  survived for many years.
It was a wife’s duty for many centuries, indeed probably until relatively recently, to produce children as regularly and as often as they were able. Their first born son was Humphrey , who became the heir. The name Humphrey Prideaux was given many times in this Prideaux line.
A sister Jane married William Wyke.

Ermington ChurchJohn Prideaux married Sybell of Luson in Ermington which lay less than a mile from Adeston. Sybell, although a neighbour at Adeston would not see John regularly as the Prideaux family had made their home at Theuborough when William married Alice.  But I hope that theirs was a love match. The couple eventually died within a few weeks of each other in  1523. The plague and sweating sickness had been doing the rounds again and it may be reasonable that they had caught one of those illnesses.
When they died in 1523 they were survived by four sons, Hugh, John, Henry and Thomas.
Hugh the heir, perhaps named after his maternal grandfather, died on 6th December 1559, when his son John was only seven. This John stayed in the parish of Harford at Stowford, an area which features strongly in this story for the next few generations.  He died aged 73 in 1625, is buried at Ermington and is named in his grandsons’ marriage settlement.

Cornwall March 2009 119

Ermington

His son Thomas was churchwarden at Ermington in 1627 and baptised his own son Arthur in 1628. These cousins were useful to my line during the civil war period and helped each other out. To the left is the author looking at his gravestone.
During the 15th century, parish churches were rebuilt along with manor houses. Stone bridges were built across large rivers and stonemasons and woodcarvers were employed everywhere. The building industry was as important in Devon and Cornwall as tin mining and the production of cloth. The birth rate began to rise along with the prosperity.  Now we can see how the lines of the family keep branching out and shrinking throughout the centuries. This was a trend common through all families, and the Prideauxs were lucky in that they had some branches continuing keeping the blood connection going. So far the family had been mainly on the up, income and land holding going from good to really good. Younger sons and daughters were encouraged to make good marriages trading on the family name and connections. It had always worked. Business dealings helped more as time went on, but now we were heading into a time where it was not so easy to stay rich, even with these connections.  So now some of these younger sons were considering work as stonemasons and carpenters, who were sought out everywhere. The building industry was where our line of Prideauxs found work for three hundred years from the mid 1600’s onwards.
When Henry VIII became King in 1509, many changes took place in the country. Not least the excommunication from Rome.  Now the  dissolution of the monasteries could begin.
The little Benedictine priory of Tywardreath was one of the first to go by the Act of 1536.
It’s condition was terrible. Prior Collins and his six monks were all that were left.  His tenant Thomas Treffry was a friend of Cromwell and he ensured that the Priory was closed and the lands sold to the gentry. The stones of the priory were carried away to build new large houses. The only stone remaining is the gravestone of Prior Collins. The monks went off to live a secular life.
Nicholas Prideaux became Steward to Shere of Launceston and helped dissolve the monasteries there. He was rewarded with very long and cheap leases of the tithes of a number of parishes including Padstow. This was the start of the branch of Prideaux building the huge property there, known as Prideaux Place, which is so famous today. Nicholas was the great grandson of Fulke Prideaux.
John Grenville secured a lease of the Tywardreath estates in the autumn of 1536.
The Protector Somerset took them. The priories and monasteries were stripped down and plundered by gentry and merchants alike,ruining them forever. They increased their own holdings by adding on to their own properties.
John Leland, the Kings librarian, travelled to Cornwall during this period of time and made many notes about the area which have proved invaluable to historians for years. He noted the sheep grazing at Tintagel and that it must have been a large place in its time.  He thought Padstow unclean as it was so full of Irishmen. He considered St Austell famous for nothing but its church and Tywardreath famous only for the Priory which was still standing at this time. Castle Dor he could not find, but the keep was still standing at Restormel. Barges could come within half a mile of Lostwithiel during this time.  The sand from the tin works being blamed for blocking up to the bridge with waste.
Celia Fiennes, traveling in 1698, found St Austell full of comely women and enjoyed West Country tarts with clouted cream, but disapproved of the men, women and children smoking. She was very impressed with the mines and gave a wonderful description of how mining was done.
The times were a’ changing again.

Harford Church (9)

John stars in the story The Terror of the Thunderstorm in the book Devon Prideaux Ghost Stories.

 

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William Prideaux 1422 – 1472

William Prideaux became heir apparent to the Devon estates following  the premature death of his elder half brother John.  He was ten years old.
William subsequently named his second son in honour of his brother  John. He must have been greatly affected by losing a big brother at such a young age. For now though, William had everything any young man could wish for. A huge inheritance, plenty of money and lands, well bred and well connected and a well known and respected father. Oh and he was good looking too.
The Prideauxs were and still are a handsome bunch, intelligent and strong. It’s just that most of us are not rich.
William appears to be determined to have children and also to gain even more money than he already possessed. His sisters made good marriages and he obviously intended to, when one looks at the women he did manage to marry.
William’s father died around 1443, when William was almost twenty one years old. His mother Ann was still alive and helped him with his first choice of a bride. They chose Rose Michelstow.  She is highly likely to be the Rose Michelstow who was the daughter of the wealthy John Michelstow of Lanteglos in Cornwall. Lanteglos is very near to the Prideaux lands and again the families would have socialised and known about each other. Rose had a sister called Elizabeth who married Thomas Treffry of Fowey. This wife of Treffry helped her mother in law , also Elizabeth, defend Fowey against the Breton fleet while her husband and father in law were away. They fortified the town and poured boiling oil over the invaders. She is immortalized on one of three brasses in the church at Fowey, though the inscriptions are now vandalized. Captain Symonds a Cavalier, luckily made records of antiquities he spotted and this is one of them.

Poor Rose died, probably in childbirth again, as there are no children from this marriage.

The second wife of William was a daughter of John Fortescue, the future Chancellor and Chief Justice to Henry VI.  Her name was Joan Fortescue.
The Forstescue family owned Fallapit in East Allington .  William’s cousin John Prideaux of Orcharton settled the next door manor of North Allington and the advowson of its church on John’s brother Martin in 1429. The Fortescue and Prideauxs were close neighbours and friends and an alliance between the two families was sensible, indeed the family intermarried on more than one occasion as the centuries passed. Most of the gentry families in Cornwall and Devon have joined with the Prideauxs at some point or other.
They all believed in line breeding. Not that it did any of them any good, as this poor wife appeared to die in childbirth too.
William Prideaux  then married his third wife Alice Gifford, the daughter and heir of Stephen Thomas Gifford of Theuborough and Agnes Churchill.  They married in 1460. The couple eventually moved into the Domesday manor of Theuborough in the parish of Sutcombe near Holsworthy, after all the children were born. Theuborough can be translated as Thieves Hill.  There is a  farm there still has the remains of a Tudor manor house which William’s son Fulke  had built near an earlier house of his.
Their children were Fulke Prideaux born 1462 and who died on 15th January 1530. Joan Prideaux was born in 1468 and John Prideaux was born in 1461.
William’s son Fulke Prideaux was the son  who inherited both Theuborough and Adeston and enjoyed great lands and wealth. Joan Prideaux married well and John Prideaux, my ancestor,  married Sybell who was heir to the property and lands at Luson, Ermington, just up the road from Adeston. His line was very fruitful and produced many more Prideauxs to colonise the county.
A deed states that William died on 15th April 1472 and that following his death, Alice married William Wollacombe, another landed Devon gentleman.
William Prideaux’s children presumably spent their time between Theuborough and Adeston. As Fulke would be inheriting he property, it made sense that his education would be there, learning the family business from the lawyers and estate management. Both Fulke  and John would also be learning French and Latin.
Incidentally, it was one of Fulke’s grandsons who carried on the line which eventually built Prideaux Place at Padstow.
Alice died on 24th February 1512, the lady reaching a great age and seeing her grandchildren grown up. Even if it was from a different house.

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Some documentation referring to William

 

CP 25/1/46/84, number 132. County: Devon. Place: Westminster. Date: The day after St Martin, 15 Henry VI [12 November 1436]. Parties: William Predeaux of Thorleston’ and Philip Morgan, querents, and Thomas Loueney and Margaret, his wife, deforciants. Property: The manor of Nordon’ and 24 messuages, 300 acres of land, 12 acres of meadow, 2 acres of alder and 30 shillings of rent in Aluyngton’, Kyngesbrigge, Dodbroke, Colpyt, Wodehous and Lye. Action: Plea of covenant. Agreement: William and Philip have acknowledged the manor and tenements to be the right of Thomas, as those which Thomas and Margaret have of their gift. For this: Thomas and Margaret have granted to William the manor and tenements and have rendered them to him in the same court, to hold to William, of Thomas and Margaret and the heirs of Thomas, for life, rendering yearly to Thomas and Margaret for the life of Margaret 10 pounds sterling, to wit, 50 shillings at each of Christmas, Easter, the Nativity of St John the Baptist and St Michael, and for the life of Thomas 6 marks, 6 shillings and 8 pence at the aforesaid feasts if Thomas survives Margaret, and to the heirs of Thomas 1 rose at the Nativity of St John the Baptist for all service, and doing to the chief lords all other services. And after the decease of William, a moiety of the manor and tenements shall remain to Joan, wife of William, daughter of the aforesaid Margaret, and the heirs of her body, to hold of Thomas and Margaret and the heirs of Thomas by the aforesaid services for ever. In default of such heirs, remainder to Margery, wife of William Pillond’, daughter of the aforesaid Margaret, and the heirs of her body, to hold of Thomas and Margaret and the heirs of Thomas by the aforesaid services for ever. In default of such heirs the moiety shall revert to Thomas and Margaret and the heirs of Thomas, quit of the other heirs of Joan and Margery, to hold of the chief lords for ever.

And the other moiety of the manor and tenements shall remain to the aforesaid Margery and the heirs of her body (same tenure and services). In default of such heirs, remainder to Joan and the heirs of her body (same tenure and services). In default of such heirs, reversion to Thomas and Margaret and the heirs of Thomas (as above).

Feet of Fines: CP 25/1/46/91

 

CP 25/1/46/91, number 4. County: Devon. Place: Westminster. Date: One month from Easter, 2 Edward IV [16 May 1462]. Parties: Thomas Wilcok’ and John Haget, querents, and William Prydeaux’ and Alice, his wife, deforciants. Property: The manors of Yewe, Blacchesburgh’ and Myddelmerwode and 54 messuages, 8 tofts, 400 acres of land, 46 acres of meadow, 80 acres of pasture, 50 acres of wood, 200 acres of furze and heath and 66 shillings and 8 pence of rent in Cryditon’, Chepyngtoriton’, Yewton’, Nymettrace, Claneburgh’, Heyngsthyll’, Blacchesburgh’, Merwode, Sprayton’, Knolle, Seyntsydewillesse, Honyton’, Elyngham, Fyneton’ and Combralegh’. Action: Plea of covenant. Agreement: William and Alice have acknowledged the manors and tenements to be the right of Thomas, as those which Thomas and John have of their gift, and have remised and quitclaimed them from themselves and the heirs of Alice to Thomas and John and the heirs of Thomas for ever. Warranty: Warranty. For this: Thomas and John have granted to William and Alice the manors and tenements and have rendered them to them in the same court, to hold to William and Alice, without impeachment of waste, of the chief lords for the lives of William and Alice, and after their decease the manors and tenements shall remain to Fulk Prydeaux’, son of William and Alice, and the heirs of his body, to hold of the chief lords for ever. In default of such heirs, successive remainders (1) to John Prydeaux’, brother of Fulk, and the heirs of his body, (2) to the heirs of the bodies of William and Alice, (3) to the heirs of the body of Alice, (4) to the heirs of the body of William and (5) to the right heirs of John Spenser’.

 

CP 25/1/46/91, number 5. County: Devon. Place: Westminster. Date: One month from Easter, 2 Edward IV [16 May 1462]. Parties: Richard Denys and Thomas Wylcok, querents, and William Prydeaux’ and Alice, his wife, and John Denys and Eleanor, his wife, deforciants. Property: The manor of Thuburgh’ and a third part of the manors of Esseraiffe and Curreworthy, and a third part of the advowson of the church of the manor of Esseraiffe, and 30 messuages, 6 tofts, 5 water mills, 1 fulling mill, 500 acres of land, 60 acres of meadow, 80 acres of pasture, 100 acres of wood, 500 acres of furze and heath, 4 pounds, 13 shillings and 4 pence of rent and rent of 1 pair of spurs and 1 pound of pepper in Esseraiffe, Curreworthy, Hyghanton’, Inwarlegh’ [sic], Romandeslegh’, Estansty, Westansty, Weston’, Knoghtonbeanpell’, Hetherlond’, Wheteford’, Mylton’ Damerell’, Northlewe, Neweton’ Sc’i Petroci, Stoke Sc’i Nectani, Welcombe, Bradeworthy, Whyteley, Suttecombe, Hertelond’, Holdesworthy and Lampford’, which Agnes, who was the wife of Stephen Gyfford’ held for life. Action: Plea of covenant. Agreement: William, Alice, John and Eleanor have acknowledged the manor, third parts, tenements and rent to be the right of Richard, and have granted for themselves and the heirs of Alice and Eleanor that the manor, third parts, tenements and rent – which Agnes, who was the wife of Stephen Gyfford’, held for life of the inheritance of Alice and Eleanor in the aforesaid vills on the day the agreement was made, and which after the decease of Agnes ought to revert to William, Alice, John and Eleanor and the heirs of Alice and Eleanor – after the decease of Agnes shall remain to Richard and Thomas and the heirs of Richard, to hold of the chief lords for ever. Warranty: Warranty.

For this: Richard and Thomas have granted to William and Alice a moiety of the manor of Thuburgh’ and a moiety of the third part of the manors of Esseraiffe and Curreworthy and a moiety of the third part of the advowson of the church of the manor of Esseraiffe, and also a moiety of the aforesaid tenements and rent in the aforesaid vills, and have rendered them to them in the same court, to hold to William and Alice and the male heirs of their bodies, of the chief lords for ever. In default of such heirs, successive remainders (1) to Fulk Prydeaux’ and the heirs of his body, (2) to John Prydeaux’, brother of Fulk, and the heirs of his body, (3) to the heirs of the body of Alice, (4) to John Denys and Eleanor and the heirs of their bodies, (5) to the heirs of the body of Eleanor, (6) to the heirs of the body of William Prydeaux’ and (7) to the right heirs of the aforesaid Stephen Gyfford’. And Richard and Thomas also granted to John Denys and Eleanor the other moiety [of all the property, as above] to hold to John Denys and Eleanor and the heirs of their bodies, to hold of the chief lords for ever. In default of such heirs, successive remainders (1) to the heirs of the body of Eleanor, (2) to William Prydeaux’ and Alice and the heirs of their bodies, (3) to the heirs of the body of Alice, (4) to John Denys [sic] and the heirs of his body and (5) to the right heirs of Stephen Gyfford’.


CP 25/1/46/91, number 13. County: Devon. Place: Westminster. Date: Two weeks from St John the Baptist, 6 Edward IV [8 July 1466]. And afterwards one week from St Michael in the same year [6 October 1466]. Parties: John Wydeslade, gentleman, and William Eliot, gentleman, querents, and Robert Rokley and Elizabeth, his wife, deforciants. Property: The manor of Orcherton’ and 16 messuages, 2 mills, 2 gardens, 1 carucate and 400 acres of land, 200 acres of meadow and 240 acres of wood in Orcherton’, Roughdon’ in the parish of Modbury in the hundred of Magna Modbury, and Parua Modbury in the parish of Blakauton’ in the hundred of Blakauton’. Action: Plea of covenant. Agreement: Robert and Elizabeth have acknowledged the manor and tenements to be the right of William, as those which William and John have of their gift, and have remised and quitclaimed them from themselves and the heirs of Elizabeth to John and William and the heirs of William for ever. Warranty: Warranty. For this: John and William have granted to Robert and Elizabeth the manor and tenements and have rendered them to them in the same court, to hold to Robert and Elizabeth, of the chief lords for the lives of Robert and Elizabeth, and after their decease the manor and tenements shall remain to the right heirs of Elizabeth, to hold of the chief lords for ever.

CP 25/1/45/76, number 15. County: Devon. Place: Westminster. Date: One week from St Martin, 2 Henry [V] [18 November 1414]. And afterwards one week from St Hilary in the same year [20 January 1415]. Parties: William Prideaux the elder, querent, and John Prideaux the elder, deforciant. Property: The manor of Godeford’. Action: Plea of covenant. Agreement: John has granted to William the manor [sic] – which Elizabeth, who was the wife of John Prideaux, knight, held for life of the inheritance of John on the day the agreement was made, and which after the decease of Elizabeth ought to revert to John and his heirs – after the decease of Elizabeth shall remain to William and the male heirs of his body, to hold of John and his heirs for ever, rendering yearly to John and his heirs 1 grain of corn at St Michael for all service, and doing to the chief lords all other services.

In default of such heirs the manor shall revert to John and his heirs, quit of the other heirs of William, to hold of the chief lords for ever. For this: William has given him 100 marks of silver.

William stars in the story It is difficult to recognise a Ghost in the book Devon Prideaux Ghost Stories.